Border Patrol chief was member of secret Facebook group for agents: report

Carla Provost, the chief of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), was previously a member of a controversial Facebook group featuring extensive sexist and racist posts from agents, investigative outlet The Intercept reported Friday.

Provost posted in the group, which has brought new scrutiny upon the agency, as recently as three months after her August appointment, according to The Intercept.

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When an agent posted a photo of a Jeopardy question about Provost, she replied with a friendly comment, according to screenshots.

Though Provost herself was not linked to any offensive material, the revelation emphasizes the ties between the highest ranks of CBP and the controversial Facebook group, which has sparked condemnations and questions from top lawmakers.

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House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) sent a letter last week demanding information on whether Provost or acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan knew about the Facebook group, called "I'm 10-15."

"This is why I have requested a full investigation into this matter,” Thompson said in a statement to The Intercept. “We need to know who in CBP leadership knew about these deplorable groups, when did they find out, and what action they took, if anything.”

 
"This Facebook group is a disturbing look into the toxic culture of abuse, racism, and extremism among border patrol agents and leadership, and the border patrol chief Carla Provost was a member," Wyden tweeted. "Provost along with the rest of border patrol leadership must resign immediately."

ProPublica published the first report about the Facebook group for current and former Border Patrol agents, which is filled with derogatory posts targeting migrants and lawmakers.

Shortly after the news broke, Provost responded with a statement calling the posts "completely inappropriate." 

"Any employees found to have violated our standards of conduct will be held accountable," Provost said.

One post featured an illustration of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) engaged in oral sex with a detained migrant, while another showed President Trump forcing Ocasio-Cortez toward his crotch with the comment: "That's right bitches. The masses have spoken and today democracy won." 

In response to a post about a 16-year-old Guatemalan migrant who died in May at a Border Patrol station, one member wrote, "If he dies, he dies," while another posted an Elmo GIF that read, "Oh well."

The agency said this month that it had informed its watchdog of the posts and initiated a probe into the situation.

Since then, reports have indicated top CBP officials had been aware of the Facebook group for years. The group had about 9,500 members before it was deleted following the reports.

On Friday, the House Oversight and Reform Committee convened a hearing on the Trump administration's treatment of migrants, which lawmakers said would include mention of the Facebook group. Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsLawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens House poised to hold Barr, Ross in contempt Trump's family separation policy has taken US to 'lowest depth possible,' says former immigration lawyer MORE (D-Md.) sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency plan | Trump vows to 'take a look' at Google's ties to China | Google denies working with China's military | Tech execs on defensive at antitrust hearing | Bill would bar business with Huawei Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency at hearing Senators press FTC over 'woefully inadequate' Facebook settlement MORE requesting that the company preserve the records from the group and turn them over to the committee. The company did not comply with the request.

“We want everyone using Facebook to feel safe,” Facebook said in a statement. “Our Community Standards apply across Facebook, including in secret groups. We’re cooperating with federal authorities in their investigation."